In an old school move, I started to leave a comment on D'Arcy Norman's post and it turned into much more than I expected ... that hasn't happened to me in years. D, I know you'll forgive me for leaving it here, in my own space ;-)
If people are to manage their own content, forming their digital identities, they need a way to host software and content that doesn’t require obscure and detailed technical knowledge. Us early adopters are not normal. We’ve been so close to technologies, for so long, that we forget what it’s like to be new to the stuff. Or not to live and breathe tech every day. Most people are not like us. They don’t know what HTTP is. It’s just some silly letters before the address of a website. They don’t know what DNS is. They don’t know what FTP is. They don’t know what SSH is. Or MySQL. Or PHP. Or Perl. etc. And they shouldn’t have to know these things in order to be full and meaningful participants in online discourse.
D'Arcy's post is great on so many levels and really shines with the comments, especially the ones from his parents. I have been thinking about all of the things he brings up again so much recently. I have arrived at the place where I can't worry about where to host my stuff anymore -- none of it really seems to matter in the grand scheme of things. If I host my own WordPress at Dreamhost I am paying them over a hundred bucks a year ... if I host it at TypePad I am paying them over a hundred bucks a year ... if I host it all at WP.com I am paying them over a hundred bucks a year. I've been publishing content online for close to a decade and that amount of "stuff" carries a cost.
What I am arriving at is this simple and disgusting fact -- it doesn't matter. With that said I need places to publish and manage my stuff. I pay Flickr and am happy to do so because if I didn't pay for it Yahoo would revoke it like they are talking about doing with delicious. I pay TypePad because I trust them to let me write and export stuff. I pay DreamHost because my ego demands I own colecamplese.com and not because I really need to host my own blog. My online life is getting expensive.
I have moved my content from blogger to my own host to wp.com to typepad.com over the last ten years only to come to realize that at the end of the day I rally just want a place to write, share, and connect with others. My audience is me and those who care to show up. I need a space to reflect and collect ... I am not a business.
Is it really important to have a domain of one's own in this day and age? Is facebook evil? Is twitter stealing my identity?
I don't have answers and my opinion has become lost in the noise of the Internet. My advice is to follow the people you trust in your community and write where it feels right to you. And don't be sad when your name isn't on the A-list ... because at the end of the day if the notion of keeping track of your thoughts is important then it doesn't matter where you deposit them. As long as you can record your thoughts, get them out, and move to the next thing you are in good shape.